I use affiliate links on my blog. When you click on my links, I may make a commission. Thank you!
If self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic has you experiencing wanderlust to international lands, it may be time to get your passport. Unfortunately, like most everything else during these unique times, the process of procuring a passport takes a little longer. While stuck in quarantine, here are some tips on how to get your U.S. Passport during the coronavirus pandemic.
Of important note, the process of getting your passport varies based on a few factors. These factors are in play regardless of the current state of the global pandemic. Consequently, the outlines below are applicable if this is your first passport or your previous passport is greater than 15 years from issuance.
How to get your U.S. Passport during the coronavirus pandemic
The most reliable source to get you through this process is the U.S. Department of State. More specifically, the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The website offers a wealth of knowledge to assist you throughout the process. Unfortunately, as of June 19, 2020, the website depicts a CODID-19 message. The long and short of it is that the passport agencies and centers are not fully operational. However, there are various phases of re-opening in effect.
Centers that are in phase one limit appointments to customers that “must travel internationally in the next 72 hours due to a life-or-death emergency.” Luckily, barring life-or-death individuals raring to travel internationally are able to apply at an acceptance facility. Keep in mind that “you will experience delays before receiving your passport and the return of your citizenship documents such as previous passports, and birth and naturalization certificates.”
The application process
First and foremost, in order to obtain a passport, you will fill out the application. The government name for this form is DS-11. The U.S. Department of State provides two methods to fill out the form. While the form is available online, if you are applying for your first passport, you will need to apply in person. Furthermore, other reasons that require you to apply in person are as follows:
1. You are under age 16
2. Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
3. Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
4. Your previous U.S. Passport was issued more than 15 years ago.
Documents required to apply for a passport
Additionally, to acquire a U.S. passport, you need to provide proof of citizenship or naturalization. Notably, this is most commonly done when you submit your original or certified, physical copy of your birth certificate. Keep in mind that U.S. State Department provides a list of required fields on any birth certificate submitted for passport consideration. Other acceptable evidence of U.S. Citizenship includes Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship. In rare instances that the aforementioned are not available, the U.S. State Department has a section on Citizenship Evidence on their website.
Additionally, a present ID is required to apply for a U.S. Passport. Furthermore, the U.S. State Department cannot accept state-issued digital ID documents. Any identity documents must by physical. Also, if presenting an out-of-state ID, you must present an additional ID. The State Department’s website also outlines photocopy requirements for documents.
How to get U.S. Passport photo
A critical element to your passport is your photograph. The U.S. State Department outlines the requirements as follows:
1. Submit a color photo, taken in the last 6 months
2. Use a clear image of your face. Do not use filters commonly used on social media.
3. Have someone else take your photo. No selfies.
4. Take off your eyeglasses for your photo.
5. Use a plain white or off-white background.
Other tips to taking an appropriate passport photo are to not wear glasses, wear attire that you regularly wear, and have a neutral facial expression. Additionally, the website outlines frequently asked questions.
What are the associated fees?
Furthermore, the fees associated with applying for your U.S. Passport vary depending on what documents are required for your travels. For example, a U.S. Passport Card may be all you need for your travels. A passport card is utilized for travel from the United States to Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean, and Bermuda. Of utmost importance to note is that a passport card cannot be used for international air travel. For first time applicants, the fee listed for a U.S. Passport card is $65.
Most commonly used for international travel is a U.S. Passport book. Travelers utilize this document in international travel by air, sea, or land. First-time applicants can anticipate paying $145 for the document, $30 for the application fee, and an additional $17.13 for 1-2 shipping. This brings the estimated total cost of acquiring a U.S. passport to $192.13. If you are just renewing one, the cost is a bit less.
While it is uncertain when the coronavirus pandemic will wind down and make traveling easier, beginning the process to get your U.S. passport may be a prime quarantine activity. Check out the Center for Disease Control for the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.